Bringing sexy back into gay men's community empowerment for HIV prevention, care and support: The Poz & Proud approach

Published: April 15, 2012

Abstract

The fact that HIV prevention initiatives are likely to fail without the involvement of communities of
people living with and affected by HIV is well known. Internationally, there are a variety of
intervention programs designed to address this problem with a wide range of outcomes. Frequently,
sustainable approaches are hampered by entrenched stigma and discrimination towards people living with
HIV. This paper describes Poz&Proud in the Netherlands, a continuous community empowerment
initiative that exemplifies how gay men living with HIV addressed this problem. It outlines the project
context, rationale and design, and examines how Poz&Proud used the Internet to support real-time
events to overcome the stigma and discrimination that prevented their community from enjoying and
accessing rights to sexual, mental health and emotional well being. We argue that new digitally
supported approaches, like Poz&Proud, can challenge the entrenched stigma and discrimination facing
communities of people living with and affected by HIV. This is because Poz&Proud’s approach
connects with the lived realities of people living with and affected by HIV through ongoing, inclusive and
relevant activities and events. Poz&Proud provides a replicable model by which other sexual minority
and vulnerable communities can more effectively contribute to the public health goals of HIV prevention
and care over current community mobilisation approaches more frequently reported on in the literature.

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